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Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

THE IRISH STOAT                               437

their colour in the winter, there are individuals which seem, to
have lost the power of change, and others which change in an
apparently capricious manner, not influenced by season or cold,
like so many other animals, the Stoat appears at times to
migrate, which it does in large parties. Such parties are
said to be dangerous, and will attack a man who crosses
their path.
The Weasel, JP. vulgctris, has much the same colour as the
Stoat, but is a smaller animal; it differs also by undergoing
no seasonal change. It is equally agile and ferocious, and
ought to be encouraged, as it vents its ferocity largely upon
Voles and Moles, which it can pursue underground. lake other
species of Putorius, it seems to kill its prey by biting through
the brain-ease.
Tije fourth British species is the recently-described Irish
Stoat, P. hikernicus. It is somewhat intermediate between the
lf$t two.
Poecilogale is a genus recently instituted by Mr. Thomas for
a small South African Weasel, P. albinucfoa, coloured like the
Zorilla, i.e. with whitish stripes upon black, but differing in its
reduced molar formula, which is Pm -J- M -J- or -J-.
Lyncodo-n1 is thought to be more doubtful; it is South
American (Patagonian), with the same molar formula as the most
reduced forms of the last genus, i.e. Pm  M \. The ears are
short and almost invisible; fche claws of the anterior limbs are
long, those of the hind limbs short. It is not quite certain that
it is not " an aberrant southern form of Putoriius brasiliensis"
That its distinction is justifiable appears to be shown by the
discovery in the same region of a fossil species, L. luganensis.
Matschie places it near Galictis.
The Eatei, Melliworii, is common to India and West and South
Africa. It is a black animal with a grey back and grey on the
top of the head, the contrast of colour suggesting a dorsal
carapace. It runs with a swift trot. The animal lives much on
the ground, but can climh trees. It is exclusively nocturnal in
its habits. It has the reputation in India of feeding upon dead
bodies, a view which has probably no foundation in fact save
that it can burrow. The molar formula is Pm f- M ^. There are
fourteen dorsal vertebrae. The African and Indian species are
1 See Matscliie, SB. <?*. Mduof. Berlin, 1895, p. 171.